Artist: Mungo Thomson
Venue: Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver
Exhibition Title: Time, People, Money, Crickets
Date: July 10 – August 30, 2015
Full gallery of videos, images, press release and link available after the jump.
Mungo Thomson, Excerpt from Untitled (Margo Leavin Gallery, 1970–), 2009. Super-16mm film, colour, silent, 5:11 minutes.
Mungo Thomson, Excerpt from Crickets, 2012. HD Video, 17:25 Minutes.
Images and videos courtesy of Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver. Photos by SITE photography.
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition by Los Angeles based artist Mungo Thomson. Time, People, Money, Crickets brings together a survey of work produced during the past five years, including key works in film, sound, sculpture, and performance complemented by an extensive monographic publication.
Central to Thomson’s artistic proposition is an embrace of context—be it situational, institutional, mass cultural or art historical—and it is through the intelligent breadth of his individual works that we are prompted to examine the perceptual mechanics of everyday life in relation to a wider historical and cosmic scale. The exhibition features several works from Thomson’s ongoing series TIME: person-sized, silkscreened mirrors bearing the iconic logo and red border of the international weekly news magazine. The mirrors are based on individual covers of the magazine that reference a variety of cultural and cosmological notions of time and history, forming a broad cumulative network of perceptual objects that pictures the viewer within it. Such associations are further elaborated by a new iteration of Thomson’s ongoing series Negative Space, photographic murals of inverted astronomical imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope, here specially designed for the exterior canopy of the Contemporary Art Gallery.
Thomson’s Crickets (2012-13) is an ambitious musical score for orchestra based on the chirping of crickets. Transcribed from a French compilation of field recordings from around the world—France, Cameroon, Senegal, Martinique, Borneo, Thailand and Venezuela—and produced in collaboration with Los Angeles composer Michael Webster, the score contains 25 movements for a 17-player classical ensemble. Crickets explores the distinctions between silence, sound, noise and music, using the aural backdrop that crickets represent: so ubiquitous that they have come to stand in for silence, and, in the context of performance, failure. Thomson and Webster have also developed Crickets for solo performers—individual musicians scattered around a park, each simulating the sound of a single cricket with a different instrument. Working with Vancouver New Music, CAG will present a live performance of Cricket Solos in Emery Barnes Park.
Other works in the exhibition play with the structures and atmospherics of the gallery and museum. Untitled (Margo Leavin Gallery, 1970– ) (2009) is a Super-16mm stop-motion film that flips through the thousands of contacts—artists, framers, electricians, collectors, customs agents, florists, critics, exterminators—in the business card rolodexes of Los Angeles’ Margo Leavin Gallery, which opened in 1970 and closed in 2012. People (2011) is a magazine that collects images Thomson has made of visitors to art exhibitions with the art on view removed in Photoshop. Originally distributed unannounced by mail, it is exhibited here as a free takeaway for visitors. Void and Observer (2013-15) is a series of sculptures based on ‘error coins’—rare coins that result from production mistakes at the US mint—that resemble planetary bodies in phase or eclipse. Kept in the pockets of gallery personnel and displayed upon request, the works orbit the gallery throughout the day. And Mail (2013) is a simple intervention into the CAG’s everyday infrastructure: for the duration of the exhibition, once delivered, the mail remains on the floor unopened, gradually becoming an obstacle to physical passage as well as to institutional function.